LOS ANGELES -- Jeff Hostetler now wants the reputation to go with the ring.
Even though he quarterbacked the New York Giants to a Super Bowl victory over the Buffalo Bills three years ago while filling in for Phil Simms, Hostetler has yet to be ranked among the game's top quarterbacks.
But Hostetler took a step toward getting the respect he wants yesterday, when he bombed the Denver Broncos for 294 yards and three touchdowns to give the Los Angeles Raiders a 42-24, AFC wild-card playoff victory before 65,314 fans at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
The Raiders now go to Buffalo Saturday to play the Bills, whom they beat in Rich Stadium, 25-24, on Dec. 5.
The Raiders, who beat the Broncos, 33-30, in overtime last Sunday, when Hostetler passed for 310 yards and three touchdowns, became the 13th team in NFL history to beat a team three times in the same season.
Hostetler completed 53 of 84 passes for 878 yards and eight touchdowns without throwing an interception in the three games against the Broncos.
The Broncos are 1-9 in road playoff games, and have lost seven straight to the Raiders in Los Angeles.
Hostetler was complemented by former Navy running back Napoleon McCallum, who had an appendectomy in late November and came back to score three touchdowns while running for 81 yards in 13 carries.
Hostetler signed with the Raiders as a free agent after Dan Reeves became the Giants coach in February. One of Reeves' first moves was to name Simms the starting quarterback and tell Hostetler to find a new team.
The move worked for the Giants. Simms led them to a 17-10 playoff victory over the Minnesota Vikings yesterday, but Hostetler showed he's not just a castoff.
When he beat the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl, he did it with defense, O. J. Anderson's running and Scott Norwood's missed field-goal try.
Yesterday, he did it with his arm. In the first half, he threw touchdown passes of 9 yards to Ethan Horton, 65 yards to Tim Brown and 54 yards to James Jett while completing six of nine passes for 202 yards.
When Hostetler was asked about his journeyman reputation, he said, "I'm kind of used to that.
"I never had a lot of respect from the media. But you can't do anything with that except go out and play well. We're not real concerned with that. There's nothing you can do to control that.
"I don't know any of the guys who are really concerned about how we're perceived by the media and the press. I think guys here have learned to deal with it."
In a season when the most popular Super Bowl matchup probably would pit Joe Montana of the Kansas City Chiefs against his old San Francisco 49ers teammates, Hostetler would like nothing better than a chance to play the Giants in the Super Bowl.
"I haven't thought about it," he said jokingly.
He added: "It's always something in the back of your head. In order to get there, we've got a tough road to go."
They'd have to win two road playoff games to get there. If they beat Buffalo on Saturday, they'll have to play at the home of the Houston Oilers-Chiefs winner.
TC In the first half yesterday, John Elway matched Hostetler touchdown-for-touchdown and the teams were tied 21-21 at halftime. But in the second half, the Broncos produced only three points -- they got 15 yards in 13 plays in the third period -- and the Raiders got the three McCallum touchdowns to make it a rout.
Art Shell, who's 9-1 as a coach against the Broncos, said the two teams were like "two boxers punching at each other" before the Raiders delivered the knockout blow in the second half.
The comment about boxers wasn't just a figure of speech. There were about a half-dozen scuffles. In one of them, a practice-squad player, James Trapp, came onto the field and joined a fight. The Raiders should have been penalized, but he wasn't in uniform, and the officials apparently thought he was a fan.
Shell, who didn't see Trapp, said: "If he did it, he's in trouble."
Jerry Seeman, the league's director of officials, who was at the game, said the league will deal with it later. Trapp is likely to get fined.
The officials were busy as it was. They called 27 penalties, the most ever in a playoff game, including 17 against the Raiders.
Even Hostetler got into one scuffle, when he retaliated after he felt Denver's Le-Lo Lang hit him out of bounds.
When he was asked about going after Lang, he said jokingly, "I was talking to Buddy Ryan.
"I felt like it was a cheap shot. I've taken a lot of late hits this year. I felt like he went after my knees. I just wanted to let him know I didn't think that was right. I kind of got a little carried away. I think our team likes to see me mix it up a little bit."
They also like to see him throw deep, because the Denver cornerbacks couldn't cover the fleet Raiders receivers.
Team owner Al Davis was quoted by a San Francisco columnist as saying the Broncos "were scared" of the Raiders. Davis' version was that the cornerbacks were scared of the speed of the wide receivers.